What Is a Bad Credit Score? | How to Fix a Low Rating? (2024)

A credit score is a rating based on your financial history. It reflects how reliable you are when it comes to repaying money. Having a poor credit score makes it harder to borrow money and get better deals on things like credit cards, loans, mortgages and more. Find out how to tell if you have a bad credit rating, and what you can do about it.

What is classed as a bad credit score?

When it comes to your Experian Credit Score, 561–720 is classed as Poor and 0–560 is considered Very Poor. Though remember, your credit score isn’t fixed. If your score isn’t where you’d like it to be, there’s plenty you can do to get it back into shape.

Another thing to bear in mind is that lenders and the other credit reference agencies have different ways of calculating your score. Different lenders have different views of what an ideal customer looks like to them. But Experian provides the UK’s most trusted credit rating to help you see where you stand. By knowing your score, you can get a good idea of how lenders may view you.

What is the lowest credit score possible?

The lowest possible Experian Credit Score is 0. Your score can’t be a negative number. Other credit reference agencies have different credit score ranges and may calculate your score differently.

How will a bad credit score affect me?

Your credit score reflects how lenders may see you. A bad credit score means lenders will likely see you as more of a risk, so you’ve a higher chance of being refused credit.

If lenders decide to approve you with a poor credit score, they may charge a higher interest rate to reduce the risk of you not paying them back. You may also find yourself limited to small borrowing amounts. Lenders tend to save their best deals for customers with high scores, so they’re unlikely to offer you promotional rates and rewards if you have a bad credit rating.

But remember, each lender has different criteria when assessing your credit history – so some may see you more positively than others. By checking your free Experian Credit Score, you can get a good idea of where you stand. The higher your score, the better your chances of being accepted for credit (and at the best rates).

Can you fix bad credit?

Absolutely – there are plenty of things you can do to improve your credit score!

Your score isn’t set in stone and can regularly change. But if you have a low credit score, it can take a little patience to get it to where you want it to be. Here are some simple steps you can take to get it back on track:

  1. Make payments on time and in full
    This improves your score over time as lenders usually see it as a sign you’re managing your money responsibly
  2. Stay below your credit limit
    Try to use 30% or less of the amount you’re allowed to borrow on things like credit cards and overdrafts
  3. Register to vote
    This is a simple way to improve your score. Make sure your address is up-to-date on the electoral roll as this helps lenders confirm your identity and location
  4. Space out your credit applications
    Each time you apply for credit, a hard credit check will be recorded on your report and your score will dip. So it’s wise to spread out your applications and only apply for credit you’re likely to get. We’ll calculate your eligibility when you compare credit cards, personal loans or mortgages with us. Searching with us won’t affect your score. (Remember, we’re a credit broker, not a lender†).
  5. See if you could get an instant score boost
    By securely connecting your current account to your free Experian account, you can show us how well you manage your money. Your regular payments to things like savings accounts, council tax payments and digital subscriptions such as Netflix may give your score an instant lift when you use Experian Boost (score increase subject to status)

What causes a bad credit score?

Your credit score reflects how lenders see you. If you have a low credit score, there may be information on your credit report that lenders see negatively. For example, late payments may make lenders think you won’t pay them on time, so your score will be lower to reflect this.

There are many factors that affect your score – some more than others. Bankruptcy will lower your score far more than one late payment, for example.

It may seem odd, but never taking out credit can also give you a poor rating. Lenders like to see that you’ve managed credit successfully in the past. If they don’t have enough information to assess you, they may be less likely to approve your application. The good news is there’s lots you can do to build a credit history.

How long does it take to go from bad to good credit?

Building a good credit score doesn’t happen overnight. But it’s a job worth doing if you want better credit offers. There’s no set time frame for changing your bad credit score to a good one – it’s different for everyone.

If you’re worried about the state of your credit score, CreditExpert can help. It's packed with tools to help you get your credit score exactly where you want it. It gives you personalised tips on things you can work on to grow your score. It can even predicts how much your score could go up if you follow these tips. Best of all, you can try CreditExpert for free*. (New customers only. Free for 30 days, then it’s £14.99 a month. If it’s not for you, simply cancel any time you like).

How can I keep track of my credit score?

You can check your Experian Credit Score at any time. It updates every 30 days if you log in. Viewing your score is free and will never affect it.

Check your score for free

A CreditExpert subscription may suit you if you want to see what’s affecting your score. You’ll get daily access to your Experian Credit Report, important alerts to certain changes on your report, personalised tips to improve your score and more.

Start your 30-day CreditExpert trial*
What Is a Bad Credit Score? | How to Fix a Low Rating? (2024)


How to fix a bad credit score asap? ›

8 steps for fixing your credit score
  1. Check your credit report and score. ...
  2. Dispute any errors. ...
  3. Get bill payments under control. ...
  4. Set a goal for less than a 30% credit utilization ratio. ...
  5. Limit new credit inquiries. ...
  6. Avoid closing old credit cards. ...
  7. Consider a balance transfer card. ...
  8. Apply for a secured credit card.
Jan 26, 2024

Can you fix a ruined credit score? ›

Repairing bad credit is possible but time-consuming. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, and the process can be a minefield. You need to know what steps to take, where to find help and which credit repair companies to avoid. Your credit report and score both wield a huge amount of power over your personal finances.

What is a good bad poor credit score? ›

Well, there are several credit score ranges. For instance, 780–850 may be considered "excellent" while 720–780 may be seen as "good." But when it comes to a range that may be seen as bad, a score between 300 (the lowest) and 660 fits into the “poor” category.

What is lowest bad credit score? ›

What Is a Bad Credit Score? On the FICO® Score 8 scale of 300 to 850, one of the credit scores lenders most frequently use, a bad credit score is one below 670. More specifically, a score between 580 and 669 is considered fair, and one between 300 and 579 is poor.

How can I raise my credit score 100 points overnight? ›

10 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score
  1. Review Your Credit Report. ...
  2. Pay Your Bills on Time. ...
  3. Ask for Late Payment Forgiveness. ...
  4. Keep Credit Card Balances Low. ...
  5. Keep Old Credit Cards Active. ...
  6. Become an Authorized User. ...
  7. Consider a Credit Builder Loan. ...
  8. Take Out a Secured Credit Card.

How to wipe your credit history clean? ›

How to remove negative items from your credit report yourself
  1. Get a free copy of your credit report. ...
  2. File a dispute with the credit reporting agency. ...
  3. File a dispute directly with the creditor. ...
  4. Review the claim results. ...
  5. Hire a credit repair service. ...
  6. Send a request for “goodwill deletion” ...
  7. Work with a credit counseling agency.
Mar 19, 2024

How long does it take to recover from a bad credit score? ›

The recovery time can also depend on the event. It may take a few months to recover from a hard inquiry, a few months (or years) to recover from a 30-day late payment, and much longer to recover from a 90-day late payment or other major negative mark (such as a foreclosure).

How to repair credit yourself? ›

Essentially, they involve getting your credit report and systematically fixing inaccurate items that are lowering your credit score.
  1. Request Credit Report. ...
  2. Review Reports Carefully. ...
  3. Dispute Any Incorrect Information. ...
  4. Pay Bills on Time. ...
  5. Pay Off Delinquent Balances. ...
  6. Decrease Your Credit Utilization, and Pay Down Your Debt.

How long does it take to repair bad credit? ›

Average score recovery time by type of event
EventAverage credit score recovery time
Missed or defaulted payment18 months
High credit utilization3 months
Hard credit inquiry3 months
Late mortgage payment (30-90 days)9 months
2 more rows

How to erase bad credit without paying? ›

Even if you admit to the negative action that's being reported by the credit reporting agencies, you may be able to get the item deleted from your credit report by requesting a "goodwill deletion." This is particularly useful if you have a single late or missed payment on a long-standing account.

What is the lowest credit score to buy a house? ›

You'll typically need a credit score of 620 to finance a home purchase. However, some lenders may offer mortgage loans to borrowers with scores as low as 500. Whether you qualify for a specific loan type also depends on personal factors like your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and income.

Is bad credit worse than poor credit? ›

So which scenario is worse — not having any credit or having bad credit? “Neither is good,” says Greg Reeder, CFP, a financial advisor with McClarren Financial Advisors in State College, Pennsylvania. However, “A poor credit score is worse,” he says. “If you have no credit, you can start from the ground up.

What is the lowest credit score to buy a car? ›

In general, you'll need a FICO credit score of at least 600 to qualify for a traditional auto loan, but the minimum credit score required with vary from lender to lender. As interest rates increase due to inflation, securing a subprime auto loan may be more difficult — but not impossible.

What credit score is needed to buy a car? ›

The credit score required and other eligibility factors for buying a car vary by lender and loan terms. Still, you typically need a good credit score of 661 or higher to qualify for an auto loan. About 69% of retail vehicle financing is for borrowers with credit scores of 661 or higher, according to Experian.

Why is my credit score going down when I pay on time? ›

Using more of your credit card balance than usual — even if you pay on time — can reduce your score until a new, lower balance is reported the following month. Closed accounts and lower credit limits can also result in lower scores even if your payment behavior has not changed.

How fast can you fix a 500 credit score? ›

For instance, going from a poor credit score of around 500 to a fair credit score (in the 580-669 range) takes around 12 to 18 months of responsible credit use. Once you've made it to the good credit zone (670-739), don't expect your credit to continue rising as steadily.

How can I raise my credit score in 24 hours? ›

Others are doable in a single day and will help your credit improve quickly:
  1. Review your credit reports.
  2. Get a handle on bill payments.
  3. Use 30% or less of your available credit.
  4. Limit requests for new credit.
  5. Pad out a thin credit file.
  6. Keep your old accounts open and deal with delinquencies.

How can I improve my credit score urgently? ›

5 steps to improve your credit score
  1. Clear all your existing debt.
  2. Pay your EMIs on time.
  3. Limit your credit utilisation.
  4. Report discrepancies in your credit report, if any.
  5. Borrow a mix of credit.

Can you fix a 500 credit score? ›

Making timely payments and avoiding “maxing out” the card will promote improvements in your credit scores. Pay your bills on time. There's no better way to improve your credit score. Among consumers with FICO® credit scores of 500, the average utilization rate is 113.1%.

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